Publishing a child’s data – California Penal Code PC 273i

Posted by Raoul Severo | Oct 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

Due to the recent advancements in technology, child predation has never been easier. The only thing that is keeping your children from child offenders and predators are your screens. Through the internet, predators can stalk your children without anyone ever realizing it. To avoid endangering them, California made it a crime to publish any data that can risk the child.

PC 273i

California penal code PC 273i is the law that criminalizes the act of unlawfully publishing a child's information. The statute declares that any person who publishes information of any sort describing or depicting a child, the physical appearance of a child, the location of a child, or locations where children may be found with the intent that another person imminently use the information to commit a crime against a child and the information is likely to aid in the imminent commission of a crime against a child, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both a fine and imprisonment.


Under this article, the children protected by this specific regulation are those fourteen (14) years old or younger. There are other laws like California Penal Code PC 647j that protect the privacy of minors older than fifteen (15) and adults above the age of eighteen (18).


Under this article, information refers to anything that contains details about the child in question; including but not limited to:

  • personal details (e.g., name, age, birthdate, home address, school address, contact details, etc.),
  • images (digital and/or physical copies of pictures or photographs of the child)
  • videos (digital and/or physical copies of films featuring the child), or
  • any materials with details and information regarding the child.


Under this article, publishing is defined as any means of making the information available to another person and/or other people through any medium, including:

  • the internet (i.e., via email, social media posts, direct messages, etc.),
  • print materials (i.e., photos, written materials, etc.)
  • short message services (SMS) texts,
  • video messages,
  • voice messages, and
  • other forms of communication relaying information.

Parents or Legal Guardians

Under this article, the responsibility of demanding legal actions should be primarily given to the parents and/or legally recognized guardian. Any parent or legal guardian of a child about whom information is published in violation of PC 273i may seek a preliminary injunction enjoining any further publication of that information.

Penalties for publishing a child's data

Aside from criminal punishment, violators of PC 273i are also subjected to be obliged to pay for civil liabilities.

Criminal Punishment

Maliciously publishing any information about children that can, later on, cause them harm of any sort is a California misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense more serious than infractions but less severe as opposed to a felony. Violating PC 273i is punishable by:

  • A fine of up to, but not more than, one thousand dollars ($1,000), and/or
  • Imprisonment in a county jail for no more than three hundred and sixty-five days (365) or one (1) full year.

Charges will also be permanently reflected on the convict's criminal records.

Civil Liabilities

Under California laws, when convicted of the charges, the defendant owes the plaintiff compensation as a part of his/her civil liabilities. This includes the:

  • Compensatory,
  • General, and
  • Punitive damages.

Compensatory damages refer to the compensation regarding the necessary fees that the plaintiff had to spend during the trials like:

  • Legal,
  • Medical, and
  • Social fees.

General damages refer to the compensation that should be given to pay the hassles that the plaintiff is subjected to like:

  • Emotional, and
  • Mental damages.

Punitive Damages refer to the amount the convict owes the victim and the justice system as a punishment for his/her criminal offense.

Legal Defense

If one ever finds himself/herself facing PC 273i charges due to allegations of publishing a child's information subjecting him/her to harms, the following conditions can be used as a defense to challenge the accusations:

  • The defendant committed the act intentionally,
  • The defendant did not have any harmful intention,
  • The defendant was coerced to admit to the crime, or
  • There is not enough evidence.

Unintentional – This condition is used when the defendant unintentionally committed the act. It may be a result of specific instances like accidentally pressing a button that shares the information.

No harmful intent – This condition is used when the defendant admits to sharing pieces of information about the child, but his/her intentions were not to cause the child any harm nor endanger him/her.

Coerced to confess – This condition is used when the defendant was forced to confess to a crime, he/she did not commit.

Insufficient evidence – This condition is used when no evidence points to the defendant's involvement in the criminal offense. Without evidence, the defendant is innocent in the eye of the law.

Facing criminal charges, especially ones involving children, would greatly tarnish one's living quality. Aside from incarceration and paying for damages, due to his/her criminal records, he/she will also have significantly less access to civil and social privileges like employment. To avoid this, the best course of action that the accused can take would be to hire our California-based criminal defense lawyers. They will help lessen, if not dismiss the charges altogether.

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